Sarah Dash of Labelle dies at age 76

(September 20, 2021) We are in mourning sharing the news that we didn't expect today about an iconic star. Sarah Dash, one-third of the pioneering female vocal group Labelle and a multi-talented artist in her own right, has died at age 76. No cause of death has been revealed, but it was unexpected.

The Trenton, New Jersey-born Dash was singing from early childhood, but it was when her family moved to Philadelphia that her music career began in earnest. Teaming with local singers Nona Hendryx, Patti (Holte) LaBelle and Cindy Birdsong, she formed teenage group The Bluebelles in the early 60s, and scored a number of regional hits. Birdsong left to join the Supremes and the three remaining  artists changed the group name to Labelle, after the powerful lead singer.

(September 20, 2021) We are in mourning sharing the news that we didn't expect today about an iconic star. Sarah Dash, one-third of the pioneering female vocal group Labelle and a multi-talented artist in her own right, has died at age 76. No cause of death has been revealed, but it was unexpected.

The Trenton, New Jersey-born Dash was singing from early childhood, but it was when her family moved to Philadelphia that her music career began in earnest. Teaming with local singers Nona Hendryx, Patti (Holte) LaBelle and Cindy Birdsong, she formed teenage group The Bluebelles in the early 60s, and scored a number of regional hits. Birdsong left to join the Supremes and the three remaining  artists changed the group name to Labelle, after the powerful lead singer.

During the 1970s, Labelle became a truly pioneering act, combining elements of rock, funk and R&B  to their music, and created more lyrically charged songs, both politically and sexually. True success finally came with the #1 smash “Lady Marmalade” in 1974, and Labelle became iconic for their flamboyance and their fearlessness as artists.

Three strong musical personalities were tough to keep together, and Labelle broke up in 1977, though the trio reunited from time to time over the next four decades. As a solo artist, Dash immediately scored a hit with the dance track “Sinner Man,” and through the end of the 70s expanded her horizons as a songwriter, singer and actress.

Hits became harder to come by as the 80s arose, but Dash again hit the top 10 with “Lucky Tonight,” while also flexing her musical muscles working with a who’s who of other artists, both R&B and rock, as a session singer. Notably, she worked with the Rolling Stones on several occasions, having a prominent role both in recording sessions and on tour.

Dash created both an autobiography and a one-woman stage show called Dash of Diva, sharing the stories of her life. The show became a hit and a fan favorite over the years.

Sarah Dash will be remembered not only for her music, but for her generosity, working to alleviate homelessness in the New York area through many events she organized. She was a complete woman and artist who lived a life that will be admired by her peers and her fans for years to come.

By Chris Rizik

 

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